Tue. May 28th, 2024

Common Alternatives

Creating Futures Beyond Capital and Carbon

Gender Equity in STEM: How Could This be a Misleading Cause?

3 min read

S A Hamed Hosseini

The video clip “Are Men Killing the Planet?” by ‘Our Changing Climate’ offers an interesting exploration of the intricate convergence between gender, science, and politics. Revealing a perplexing schism in our comprehension, the superficial antagonism between racial “petro-patriarchy” and “ecomodern (liberal) patriarchy” emerges as a detrimental binary. This dichotomy, however, is based on a shared nucleus: the bedrock of patriarchal colonialist capitalism, which serves as the root cause of our global ecological crises.

The path forward entails cultivating a world of “non-dominance,” fostering an environment where healthy and positive manifestations of masculinity harmonize seamlessly with the diverse spectrum of resistance and transformation. This inclusive framework can significantly bolster the transformative endeavors championed by contemporary Commonist movements, such as ecosocialism, eco-anarchism, ecofeminism, indigenous conviviality, and degrowth voices and forces.

From my point of view, the term “ecomodern patriarchy” is interesting to use as it helps us overcome the temptation beneath its gender-equity aura seemingly aligned with the tenets of “elite feminism” (let’s call it for what it is! reinventing patriarchy through the co-option of women).

A closer analysis unveils a nuanced interplay that goes way beyond the obvious patriarchal examples of Elon Musk and the like mentioned in the clip. One of its nuanced manifestations pertains to the integration of women into STEM fields, a phenomenon familiar to academics in the global North these days, gaining momentum within Western higher education establishments.

This movement unfolds within a milieu predominantly governed by the white upper managerial male class. The following excerpt from the Australian Department of Industry, Science, and Resources aptly encapsulates how the discourse surrounding women and science/technology is simplified within the context of ecomodernist liberal patriarchy: “Girls’ confidence in STEM subjects is generally lower than boys and falls as they get older.” [1] However, all across these seemingly gender-justice discourses, STEM fields are misleadingly portrayed constantly as value-free, non-ideological, gender-neutral entities, except when they are institutionalized and promoted to be mostly attractive to boys.

Consequently, the focus must simply shift towards co-opting and assimilating women into these fields which are actually muscularized to the core under the technocratic mindset entwined with capitalism. This severely undermines the potential for an authentic, self-driven women’s struggle to emancipate modern science and technology from capital’s clutches, diverting them from their mission to serve their communities, their gender, and humanity on a global scale. The consequences of succumbing to these delusions are dire. By veiling the true intent of preserving patriarchal capitalism under the guise of gender equity and ecological preservation, we hinder genuine progress. This diversion not only obstructs the authentic empowerment of women but also perpetuates the dominance of capital over science and technology. As a result, the potential for transformative change that benefits communities and humanity at large remains stifled, leaving us trapped in a cycle of inequality and unsustainable practices.

While “petro-masculinity” and anti-ecological xenophobic white masculinity perpetuates a brazenly misogynistic assault on women and nature, the liberal eco-modern patriarchy masquerades as a mirage of women’s liberation and empowerment, camouflaged under the guise of ecological preservation (often subservient to capital’s sustainability in the name of ecological sustainability).

The solution does not solely rest in increasing the participation of girls in science, but rather in fundamentally transforming science and technology by infusing their purposes and structures with a more feminine essence. This itself however necessitates redefining femininity beyond the boundaries of elite feminist perspectives, which inadvertently function as proxies for capital and provoke white petro-patriarchal misogynistic violent reactions.

You may watch the clip here at: https://youtu.be/ddyOe7vm5R0?feature=shared.

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